How Trash Chute Code Requirements Protect Building Occupants

Trash chutes may appear to be a basic and uncomplicated part of a hi-rise building, however they must adhere to strict safety regulations to ensure the well-being of those within the building. In the event of a fire in the trash room, the chute can act as a conduit for smoke and flames to reach the upper floors, putting occupants at risk. Additionally, if any of the intake doors are broken and left open, it can have dire consequences for the safety of the building.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) sets the standards for trash chute construction and maintenance through Code NFPA 82, known as the "Standard on Incinerators and Waste and Linen Handling Systems and Equipment." This code establishes the minimum requirements for trash chutes that all building owners must comply with, in addition to other codes that may apply. Standards include regulations on chute size, materials, chute intake doors, discharge openings, vents, and fire safety.

(The following also applies to linen/laundry chutes as well)

Minimum Trash Chute Requirements


The NFPA has established regulations on the size of trash chutes, stating that the minimum diameter must be 24 inches. The internal chutes must be made of 16 gauge aluminized steel.


The vents must be the same diameter as the chute. They should extend at least 4 feet above the roof and be constructed from 22 gauge galvanized steel.


For maintenance and repair, the chutes must have accessible points for workers and equipment, including cleaning and sanitizing units, plumbing, and electrical connections.

Requirements for Trash Chute Doors

In order to meet trash chute code requirements, intake doors must meet the following:

  1. They must be self-closing: This means that when the door is opened, it will automatically close behind you without having to manually shut it each time.
  2. They must be self-latching: This means the door must latch securely so that it cannot be easily opened by anyone else who may come across it.
  3. They must be UL "B" Label doors with a 1.5-hour rating: This means that if the trash chute door is closed and latched, it will be able to withstand a fire for 90 minutes without failing (hence the term "fire-rated doors")
  4. The door openings should measure at least 24 inches wide by 30 inches high
  5. The doors should be designed to prevent materials or bags from getting caught on the outside or inside of the chute

What About Trash Chute Parts?

When it comes to the safety of your building, you want to make sure that ALL components of your trash chute are up to code.

As we discussed above, one important aspect of this is making sure that the door is UL rated. UL stands for Underwriters Laboratories and they are a global safety consulting and certification company. They test products for safety and performance before they can be sold in the market. The UL rating is a sign that the door has been tested and approved for use in buildings.

It is important to make sure that all components of the door, including the latch, hinges, closers, and other hardware, are UL rated as well. This will ensure that the door will be able to withstand fire and smoke conditions and keep your building safe.

Specifically, the hinges should be made from 12 gauge galvanized, spring-loaded plate that rolls on a two-inch steel track or 16 gauge aluminized steel

Additional Code Requirements

The discharge door at the bottom of the chute must have a closing gate and a 45-degree sweep. It must also run on it's own tracks.

The discharge openings must be equipped with fire dampers that meet the minimum requirements set by UL 555, and carry the UL "B" label. These dampers must include the cover, design, gate, frame, and closing mechanism.

Fire code requires that the discharge door must be able to run on its tracks. If it is bent, it will not do so smoothly. The fusible lead link is a common component that may need replacement. It often falls off and needs to be replaced.

The chutes should also have a sprinkler system in compliance with NFPA 13, with at least one sprinkler head located at the top service opening or just above it.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, trash chutes play a vital role in the safety of a building. It is important to perform regular testing on the trash chutes to ensure the proper functioning of the fire damper and overall safety of the system. Trash chute fires are more common than one might think. However, by taking the necessary precautions and being properly prepared, the damage caused by a fire can be minimized, if not completely prevented!